Definitions of Archival Terms
(1) The noncurrent records of an organization or institution preserved because of their continuing value; also referred to, in this sense, as archival materials or archival holdings. (2) The agency responsible for selecting, preserving, and making available archival materials; also referred to as an archival agency. (3) The building or part of a building where such materials are located; also referred to as an archival repository. In American usage the term archives is gernerally a plural or collective noun, although the form archives has been applied to a number of special collections. [A basic glossary for archivist, manuscript currators, and records managers, compiled by Frank B. Evans, et al.]
(1) An artificial accumulation of manuscripts or documents devoted to a single theme, person, event or type of record. (2) A body of manuscripts or papers, including associated printed or near-print materials, having a common source. If formed by or around an individual or family, such materials are more properly termed personal papers or records. If the cumulation is that of a corporate entity it is more properly termed records. (3) In singular or plural form, the total holdings--accessions and deposits--of a repository. See also Manuscripts; Papers; Record Group; Records [A basic glossary for archivist, manuscript currators, and records managers, compiled by Frank B. Evans, et al.]
Dates of archives and manuscript collections are usually expressed in two forms: inclusive and bulk. Inclusive dates express the entire range of dates covered by the records or collection. Bulk dates express the dates covered by the bulk of the materials in the records or collection. Bulk dates are often set off by parentheses when they are used in a finding aid. Example: 1837-(1845-1870)-1912. In this example the inclusive dates are 1837-1912 but most of the material falls between 1845 and 1870.
The descriptive media, published and unpublished, created by an originating office, an archival agency, or manuscript repository, to establish physical or administrative and intellectual control over records and other holdings. Basic finding aids include guides (general or repository and subject or topical), inventories or registers, location registers, card catalogs, special lists, shelf and box lists, indexes, calendars, machine readable catalogs, and, for electronic records, software documentation. [A basic glossary for archivists, manuscript currators, and records managers, compiled by Frank B. Evans, et al.]
An Inventory is a basic archival finding aid. The Inventory usually includes an historical sketch of the institution or division of the institution whose records are being described, a scope and content note, and a series description. The series description usually includes title, dates, quantity of materials, arrangement, relationship to other series and description of significant subject content. The inventory also includes a box and folder list. See also Register.[A basic glossary for archivists, manuscript curators, and records managers, compiled by Frank B. Evans, et al.]
Documents of manuscript character (a handwritten or typed document, including a letter press or carbon copy) usually having historical or literary value or significance. All manuscript records may thus be regarded as manuscripts, but generally the term is used to distinguish nonarchival (personal papers) from archival material (institutional records). From the latin for hand (manu) and the past particible of scribere to write. [A basic glossary for archivists, manuscript currators, and records managers, compiled by Frank B. Evans, et al.]
(1) A natural accumulation of persoanl and family materials as distinct from records. (2) A general term used to designate more than one type of manuscript mateiral. See also Collection; Manuscripts; Personal Papers. [A basic glossary for archivists, manuscript currators, and records managers, compiled by Frank B. Evans, et al.]
Personal papers are the private documents accumulated by an individual. These documents can take many forms, but will often include the individual's correspondence, diaries, drafts of published works, photographs, etc.
The place of origin of an object or document(s). In archival terms, this refers to the administrative office of origin of a given record, group of records, or files. In the case of manuscript collections, provenance refers to the person, family, firm or other source from which the materials were obtained. Provenance can also refer to information about the successive transfers of ownership and custody of a particular, book, object, or document.
(1) Recorded information regardless of media or characteristics. (2) In machine-readable records/archives, two or more data fields in predetermined order and treated as a unit.
A record group is usually defined as a body of related records that are organizationally grouped together due to their common unit of origin. A record group would normally contain all of the records of one department of the institution, such as the records the Dean of Faculty's Office or the records of the Office of the President.
A Register or Manuscript Register is a term applied to the finding aids developed by the Manuscript Division of the Library of Congress, and now used widely by other institutions, to describe groups of papers, collections and records. A register generally states the materials provenance and conditions of administration. It is usually made up of a scope and content note, a statement containing the dates covered by the collection (both inclusive and bulk), a biographical note or institutional history, a statement regarding the arrangement of the materials and a box and folder list. See also Inventory.
File units or documents arranged in accordance with a filing system or maintained as a unit because they relate to a particular subject or function, result from the same activity, have a particular form, or because of some other relationship arising out of their creation, receipt, or use. Sometimes known as a record series.[A basic glossary for archivists, manuscript currators, and records managers, compiled by Frank B. Evans, et al.]
Copyright © 2004 Mount Holyoke College. This document has been improperly attributed. Last modified on April 14, 2004.